Gary Oftedahl: Blogworld or just out of this world
You know, this is hard. I mean blogging and being able to sound intelligent, pithy, “cutting edge” and articulate–and doing it weekly. At least it is for me, and that’s surprising. Why? Anyone who knows me is well aware of that I have an infinite number of ideas, am totally willing to share them, and can articulate at length (yes, I know, too much length) on a huge number of topics.
So what’s the big deal with writing a blog? It’s just as simple as taking the thoughts from my brain, and rather than sending them downstream to my oral cavity, for dissemination via my dulcet tones, instead using the power of the keyboard, and the printed word. Yeah, simple!!
I’m beginning to understand the challenge, and also the opportunity. First, I’ve been in health care, both as a practicing physician and as a health care leader for over 35 years. Yet in certain environments, encountering those more brilliant than I (yes, that does occur with a frequency higher than I might like), I feel intimidated. And perhaps it is that intimidation and attempting to be at a similar level and stance that I hesitate to put myself out there in the world of blogs. After all, like many of my fellow colleagues in the medical profession, I’m a bit competitive, and wanting to succeed–OK, perhaps win. And therein lies the rub.
A few examples will suffice to support my assertion. This is my faint attempt at introducing evidence-based medicine into the blogging world. If you’re a blogger, and connected to the medical environment, you’ve heard of Dr. Rob. If you haven’t, you should. As I read his Musings of a Distractible Mind (http://distractible.org/dr-rob/), I am in awe–using “fluff”, Dr. Suess, shoulder exams, etc.–his humor, his insights, his visuals transcend anything I could consider. Hence, I’m intimidated in any effort to create a humor which would compete. Nuts!!!
Then there is KevinMD, who from a practicing physician standpoint, provides insights and thoughtful comments on the plights and challenges of practicing physicians everywhere. Now he’s a YouTube star, being interviewed at a recent Blogworld event (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpgxM_tT4iw). His calm demeanor, his rock star status (whether he realizes it or not) has exceeded anything he might have expected, and given him a voice which is heard. Grumble, grumble, my envy, not to mention my insecurity is again in the red zone.
Thirdly, while I might want to sound extremely comprehensive, extremely well read, and capable of linking my comments to a wealth of expert opinions which expand upon my well-conceived thoughts, I’m likely doomed. I need look no farther than my adjoining office, in which resides Kent Bottles. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve read his, or certainly should. With an incredible ability to expound on almost any topic, and a mind able to pull in obtuse references, provide a unique context, his blogs strike me as publishable material for a peer-reviewed journal. In my best day, my comments might make the gossip section of People magazine. I’m beginning to understand my reticence.
These are only three examples, but they represent the challenge and the opportunity. So while many are meeting to advance their knowledge of this evolving field at Blogworld (sounds like an amusement park, but perhaps it is), I’m occasionally feeling out of this world. But then a touch of reality, and a sense of relief, gently touches my brow–with the impact of a two by four lovingly applied.
For in reality, blogging is a chance for personal expression, for sharing thoughts, and for helping an internal focus. It was on watching a short video from Seth Godin and Tom Peters, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=livzJTIWlmY), that the epiphany occurred. The real value of blogging is that irrespective of whether a single person reads it or not, it is a valuable exercise. OK, I’ll admit that it took awhile to accept that–considering my past confessions regarding competitiveness. But upon reflection, it is a true statement. Since I started blogging, being “forced” to structure, organize, and express a thought or idea, it’s helped me in framing my thinking.
The world is changing, the amount of new ideas and information growing at an exponential rate, and the complexity of our lives greatly increased. Blogging offers an opportunity to express my thoughts, but in a structured and concise fashion. That in itself is a useful exercise. So I’ll continue to commit to taking my “distractable” thoughts (Dr. Rob and I have that attribute in common) and put as much structure and organization as is possible–given my past personal history. I’ll not be as funny or pithy as Dr. Rob, but who is. I’ll not be as able to reflect on the practice of medicine as KevinMD, but that’s OK. I’ll not be as thorough, detailed, and insightful as Kent Bottles, which is not an issue. But I can be myself, using my 35+ years of experience, my passion, and the unique thoughts and perspectives that I bring to the table.
So whether Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogworld, and whatever new social media arises over the horizon, I’ll look at it as an opportunity to advance my thinking, and become in the world, not out of the world. Now if only Dr. Rob could help me make this into a Dr. Seuss poem, (http://distractible.org/2009/10/04/seuss-was-a-doctor/) I’d likely really have something special, or more special than it is to me.
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